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Breaking Down Sports Illustrated’s Fortunate 50

Every year, Sports Illustrated publishes its Fortunate 50, which highlights the top earning athletes in the United States (SI separately produces the International 20).  This year’s Fortunate 50 is led by Floyd Mayweather, Jr., who took in $85 million from two fights and zero endorsements.  The phrase “boxing is dead” clearly does not apply in Mayweather’s case (prize money is fueled by spectator interest).

There are a total of 13 basketball players, 11 football players, and 19 baseball players in the Fortunate 50 (comprising 86% of the list).  It should not be surprising that baseball players dominate the list; their salaries are guaranteed and there is no salary cap in Major League Baseball (as opposed to the NFL’s hard cap and the NBA’s soft cap).  However, the bulk of baseball players’ money comes from their salaries and not from endorsements, Derek Jeter being the exception, who earns almost as much money from endorsements as he does from the New York Yankees.  Compare that to Adrian Gonzalez (#25 on the list), who earned $21,857,142 from his salary with the Boston Red Sox and only $500,000 in estimated endorsement money.

What should be surprising are the names that correspond to numbers 17 and 42 on the Fortunate 50.  Number 17 is Vernon Wells, who receives the second largest MLB salary (behind Alex Rodriguez) at $24,187,500.  Number 42 is one of the newest members of the Miami Heat – Rashard Lewis – who had a salary of $17,015,000.  Lewis is represented by basketball agent Tony Dutt.  Wells is represented by Greg Genske of The Legacy Agency.

By Darren Heitner

Darren Heitner created Sports Agent Blog as a New Year's Resolution on December 31, 2005. Originally titled, "I Want To Be A Sports Agent," the website was founded with the intention of causing Heitner to learn more about the profession that he wanted to join, meet reputable individuals in the space and force himself to stay on top of the latest news and trends.

Heitner now runs Heitner Legal, P.L.L.C., which is a law firm with many practice areas, including sports law and contract law. Heitner has represented numerous athletes and sports agents as legal counsel. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor at Indiana University Bloomington from 2011-2014, where he created and taught a course titled, Sport Agency Management, which included subjects ranging from NCAA regulations to athlete agent certification and the rules governing the profession. Heitner serves as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where he teaches a Sports Law class that includes case law surrounding athlete agents and the NCAA rules.